Out of Bounds

Safety in Secret Spots

If you’re looking for me I’ll be easy to spot. That’s the beauty of orange.

By Rob Breeding

I added a new hat to my collection this week. It’s a plain ball cap, rather drab, other than the color: hi-vis orange.

I’m a big fan of orange, and not just in the fall. Unless I need something stealthy for stalking tailing carp, I like orange just as much during fishing season. 

This time of year, of course, orange is the GOAT apparel hue, except when the Chicago Bears ditch their traditional dark navy blue for the color, which is otherwise an accent on the teams’ uniform. I go with orange for most of my gear, even though most states have minimal standards requiring upland bird hunters to wear it. 

It does appear my fading, orange vest, patched together in spots with Gorilla Tape, will need to see me through another season. I didn’t plan things out soon enough and well-made vests are not easy to find during hunting season. By opening day they’re pretty much sold out, and it has been that way since well before COVID-19. The subsequent supply-chain woes have made it even harder to find a good vest.

There are plenty of semi-disposable hunting vests in the big box stores and I’ve made do with cheaper gear like this for years. But as I wore my current vest to tatters I vowed its replacement would be a quality product, one that might last a decade or more. 

You need to plan earlier than is my custom to get your hands on a good vest, however. My problem is that in spring my mind wanders toward fishing. 

Even if I could find a replacement, I’ve blown my wardrobe budget for the season. My previous hunting boots were beyond the power of Gorilla Tape to salvage, as were my brush pants. Both had to be replaced.

My brush pants were toast two seasons ago. I survived last season hunting in regular old blue jeans. I got away with that because I didn’t hunt the Southwest. Brush pants are a requirement in most of my favorite spots in Arizona and California, where virtually all the vegetation bites. Up north, you can get by with jeans.

The forecast for Mearns’ quail this year is promising after good monsoon seasons back-to-back in southern Arizona, so brush pants were a must this year.

This means my vest replacement project is on hold, but I need to get on it just about the time the season closes. Spring fishing be damned, I’ll still need to prepare for fall.

 My new vest will be orange, despite hunting alone with my dogs about 80% of the time. I want to be safe when I hunt with friends and there are big game rifle seasons that overlap some of my favorite bird spots in both time and space. 

I prefer to be seen, even when I’m hunting where there’s no hunter-orange requirement at all. I haven’t yet heard a good reason otherwise, even from some of my pals who primarily hunt unadorned in orange. 

I did read a semi-decent anti-orange argument recently, in a discussion about the attributes of upland bird hunting vests. A poster argued against orange gear because your visibility makes you easier to track by lazy hunters intent on poaching your secret spots, rather than scouting up their own. The poster’s logic almost swayed me, until I remembered there is no better way to steal someone’s spot than to just sit and listen for gunfire.

If someone nearby is getting into birds you don’t need a visual to learn their secret.

So unless my vest suddenly disintegrates, or there’s a major run on Gorilla Tape, I’m set for the season. I even cobbled together enough ammunition to get me through January, I hope.

If you’re looking for me I’ll be easy to spot. That’s the beauty of orange.

Rob Breeding’s website is www.mthookandbullet.com.